Fear Of Ageing: Let's Talk About It.
You can't deny that fear of becoming visibly aged is something that the beauty industry seriously capitalises on. When people feel like their faces are changing in a way they don't like, they are often prepared to spend large in order to fight the process - "anti-ageing", as it's come to be known. But I think it's time we had an open conversation about this, and let's start with the why.
Why do we fear the ageing process? Why are we so terrified of looking old?
It's pretty easy to answer this one. It's widely agreed upon that as we age we look, well, worse. We sag, we wrinkle, pigment spots appear where they weren't before. We look different, and these visible changes are not something we chose - so there's also an element of feeling a lack of control, as each year we change more and more. The ageing process is particularly hard on women, because more so than men, we are taught to overly focus on and value what we look like. For our entire lives, so much emphasis is placed on looking good, that when we start to look aged our identity can feel threatened. If we go even further we could talk about the fact that elderly people are treated differently. Older women are treated differently. A client in her forties told me recently that she was starting to feel "invisible" - and I can believe it.
Fear of ageing goes so much deeper than not wanting to be wrinkled. It's a fear of losing a big part of who we are: what we look like.
The responsibility of the beauty industry:
As I said before, it's no secret that the beauty industry capitalises on this fear of ageing, and it's something I've always been incredibly uncomfortable with. In my first job as a skin therapist, I was instructed to point out "imperfections" on peoples skin in order to sell more product and treatments. Needless to say I didn't last long in the role. I've since heard many anecdotes from clients who have been to skin consultations elsewhere and been told they "needed" botox/fillers, or had "imperfections" pointed out by their therapist that, up until the consultation, they hadn't even been aware of or bothered by.
Unfortunately this is the way many beauty establishments still operate - but it doesn't have to be that way.
Our wonderful educator who teaches the Skin Ritual team regularly, said to me the other day,
"it is our responsibility as skin therapists, not to reinforce a fear of ageing".
And I couldn't agree more.
Our job is not to point out problems, or encourage insecurities. Our job is to support you through the ageing process, to guide you on how best to care for your skin as it changes, and to help you to reach a place where you are comfortable and confident in your own skin.
So, is it wrong to want to fight the ageing process? Should we just learn to accept it instead?
I believe the answers to these questions are both yes and no.
YES, we should accept that we cannot entirely prevent the ageing process, and that that's okay.
And, NO, it's not wrong to still want to have some level of control over your ageing process, and take steps to make it as good as it can be.
At the end of the day, when it comes to skin ageing I believe the primary focus should be the health of the skin. Remember, now more than ever, our skin has to last a really long time! So it's in our best interests to keep it as healthy as possible, for as long as possible. That means: sunscreen, topical nutrients, moisturiser to maintain a good level of skin hydration and keep it strong...
At the end of the day, we can be accepting of ageing and still want to slow the process. Keeping your skin healthy inevitably leads to it looking better too - and theres nothing wrong with wanting that.